LW7145 - Consent and Confidentiality

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will develop a critical understanding of the laws relating to consent to treatment in England and Wales, medical confidentiality and access to medical records. You will examine the importance of legal capacity/competency in consent law and its effect on the rights of adults and children to give or withhold consent. You will examine the basis of the duty of confidence and the circumstances where disclosure of confidential medical information can be justified. The module will critically consider the complex framework that governs medical confidentiality and examine the common law and statutory requirements alongside relevant professional guidance.

This module covers the following topics:

Treatment of capable adults at common law: introducing the doctrine of informed consent and the common laws of battery and negligence in relation to consent to treatment.

Treatment of Incapable adults under the Mental Capacity Act 2005: examining how and when incapable adults can be treated without consent.

Treatment of Children and Young Persons: exploring the legal framework governing the care and treatment of children and young people and the solutions offered by common law and the primary statutes when legal and ethical issues arise in their treatment and care.

The sources of the duty of confidence.

The circumstances where disclosure of medical information can be justified and the remedies available where the duty is breached.

Disclosure issues relating to children and adults lacking capacity.

Analysis of the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to medical confidentiality.

The Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with a particular focus on issues relating to ‘processing’ medical information and entitlement to access personal data.

How will I learn on this module?

You will be supported by a teaching and learning plan (TLP) which outlines the activities (independent study/reading, self-evaluative tasks, formative assessments) throughout the module.

Directed learning will centre on detailed learning materials which will be made available via Blackboard Ultra, the module dedicated e-Learning (elp) site and will include guided reading using electronic reading lists, self-evaluative tasks as well as opportunities to engage with your tutor and fellow students. The learning materials will be used to introduce you to the major principles of each topic in addition to placing the principles in context in relevant factual scenarios. The self-evaluative tasks will be used to develop and test your knowledge, factual analysis and problem-solving skills

Knowledge will be consolidated through a range of learning activities that will include extended reading, research and reflection. You will have an optional Study Day which will focus on consent to treatment and medical confidentiality. The study day will include lectures from tutors together with interactive workshop-based activities in which you will need to consider the law surrounding medical practice in a practical context. The workshops will utilise an experiential teaching and learning strategy through using practical scenarios to expand on the material covered in the online learning materials. Study Day content will also be made available as live, on-line sessions. The workshops will be interactive sessions

Independent learning will centre on you identifying further reading and research to provide deeper/broader knowledge and understanding of consent to treatment and medical confidentiality and will build on the areas covered in online materials and at the study day.

You will be provided with detailed feedback on your formative and summative assignment for this module and, as part of your reflective development, such feedback can be utilised in the preparation of subsequent module assessments on the programme. You are therefore able to demonstrate self-reflection and reflective practice within the module and on the programme as a whole, with feedback of appropriate quality and the positive application of formative feedback on learning.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

This Module is designed by, and will be managed by, the Module Tutor who will be responsible for guiding you in your engagement and learning on the Module. Material will be provided to you through Blackboard Ultra. The Module has a dedicated eLP site which includes, a workbook, multiple choice questions, study day materials, recorded lectures powerpoint slides and links to resources, such as newly published articles. This is in addition to the electronic reading list. Extensive use is therefore made of the eLP at module level to facilitate discussions between you and your Module Tutor, to provide materials, make announcements and to highlight recent developments in the law. You may communicate with your Module Tutor by e-mail or telephone and are encouraged to make contact if you encounter any difficulties relating to any aspect of the module.

Academic support is also available through summative and formative feedback on assignments and a module teaching and learning plan (TLP) detailing delivery structure and any University requirements. At programme level you will be supported by the Programme Leader who will provide pastoral support throughout the module and the programme as a whole.

The Academic Programme Support Teams are responsible for the non-academic administration of the Module, such as recording the marks from your assessment, maintaining student records and dealing with programme-specific student enquiries.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the laws and professional guidance that govern consent to treatment and medical confidentiality and access to medical records for patients (adults and children) in England and Wales.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:

Develop an ability to conduct rigorous and independent legal research in relation to consent to treatment, medical confidentiality and access to medical records and critically apply your knowledge to given scenarios and identify solutions.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

Developed intellectual independence by being able to access and interpret relevant legal and ethical material.

Gained a critical awareness of the legal and ethical issues surrounding consent to treatment and medical confidentiality in English law and will be able to critically reflect on how those legal and ethical values align with your own personal and professional values.

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment?will be achieved by self-test questions in module materials, group discussion and non-assessed exercises. Answers to self-test questions will be provided on the module elp and your tutor will give oral and written feedback to you as required. (MLO 1 & 2)

Summative Assessment will be undertaken on an individual basis by way of assignment, which constitutes 100% of the marks for this module. The assignment will aim to encourage a deep and critical approach to learning, developing an ability to think widely about the issues relating to medical law. and to explore these in line with directed and independent learning.? (MLO 1, 2, 3, 4)

The module will be assessed by coursework with a maximum word limit of 3,000 words. The specific nature of the assignment may vary and may include essay and case studies. Assessment criteria are provided to enable you to understand what is expected of you and how you will be judged on your performance. Submission is electronic via Turnitin.

You will be provided with appropriate electronic written feedback through Turnitin on your assessment in accordance with the Law School’s feedback policy.





Module abstract

Consent and Confidentiality examines the laws governing consent to medical treatment in England and Wales and the law and guidance which govern or relate to medical confidentiality and access to medical records. The module focuses on legal and ethical issues surrounding the treatment of adults and children at common law, under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and related legislation and explores the basis of the duty of confidence and the circumstances where disclosure of confidential information can be justified. The law will be considered against the backdrop of patient rights (autonomy) and the human rights of patients. The legal framework in this area is complex and you will consider the impact of the common law, Human Rights Act 1998, Data Protection Act 2018 and professional guidance along with other relevant legislation and source material. You will critically engage with research outputs as part of your research-rich learning, drawing from Northumbria’s extensive on-line databases and library facilities. You will be assessed by researched assignment (100%) which will demonstrate your understanding of the legal framework and its application in relation to consent to treatment and medical confidentiality.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Part-Time Distance Learning

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


Your Learning Experience

Find out about our distinctive approach at 

Admissions Terms and Conditions

Fees and Funding

Admissions Policy

Admissions Complaints Policy